Thursday, July 25, 2024

Are the ‘Four Horsemen of New Atheism’ right about religion?

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The biggest debate that needs to happen in the field of theology globally is this-are the ‘four horsemen of New Atheism’ right about religion?

Writing on faith or religion is always controversial. More so is questioning religion as it affects and influences the life of billions. In some religions you get death for questioning faith.

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But some individuals dare to question the very foundations of every religion.

They critique theology, religious studies and mythology. Such people are very rational and are difficult to debate with.

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In the light of that argument, I am going to delve a bit on the ‘Four Horsemen of New Atheism’.

These people are Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris and the late Christopher Hitchens.

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All these are globally renowned for their scientific bent of mind and erudite disposition.

Richard Dawkins is an evolutionary biologist and academic. He is the author of best selling books ‘The Selfish Gene‘ and The God Delusion.

Daniel Dennett is a cognitive scientist and philosopher who works on the philosophy of the mind, philosophy of sciences and God.

Sam Harris is another American philosopher, neuroscientist, podcast hoster and author of over five books especially the controversial The End of Faith‘ and ‘Islam and the Future of Tolerance‘.

The late Christopher Hitchens was an influential journalist and the author of eighteen books, especially the extremely controversial ‘God is not Great‘.

Why they are Right!

This piece is going to be a bit different. This writer will weigh the argument of both sides. These influential atheist thinkers are right.

Yes you heard it right, they are right. But there are several reasons-

Firstly, they are correct in pointing out that religion is at best, to quote Yuval Noah Harari here, ‘nothing but storytelling’. Religion or faith fails in front of science.

Secondly, Science works on proof, it forms the basis of rationality. Science argues that unless you can see it, touch and feel it and verify it for yourself, you cannot prove that it exists, this is called empiricism.

Thirdly, they state that religion doesn’t work on empiricism, it encourages superstition and fanaticism, well the fanaticism is rampant in Islam, and they have proven it right.

Fourthly, they state that religion wasn’t responsible for advancement of human civilization, science and the rational mind was.

Fifthly, among them Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris pointed out that religion and the concept of ‘God’ encouraged the worst crimes in history.

This fact has been corroborated by Steven Pinker in The Better Angels Of Our Nature.

In that book he documented the ghastly nature of crimes motivated by religion in Christianity and Islam.

Lastly, Sam Harris has rightly pointed out that holy books of Christians and Muslims doesn’t really make any logical sense. He even called Islam- ‘the mother lode of bad ideas‘.

It fails to pass the scientific test of empiricism and rationalism.

They are right about this fact as far as the Abrahamic religions are considered, especially Islam.

The cartoon of the Four Horsemen

Where and Why they are Wrong

Among the Four Horsemen of New Atheism, only Richard Dawkins and Daniel Dennett have inter alia ridiculed Hinduism and called it unscientific.

While the others are silent on this, they may share the same thought process.

But I will prove them wrong and will give logical expositions for my arguments-

Firstly, Sanatan Dharma’s foundations are scientific, the Namaskar that we do is scientific in nature. It denotes not just courtesy but also channelizes one’s inner energy for any good deed.

Secondly, Yoga which is often the subject of mockery has been scientifically proven by world leaders and scientists. Willougby Britton, John Rettger of Brown and Standford universities etc have proven its usefulness.

Thirdly, the concepts of Zero, Pi, Earth’s distance from the sun, statecraft etc were all propounded in Hinduism.

Fourthly, Sanatan Dharma doesn’t encourage proselytization. We have our own sect of non-believers in the Vedas- the Charvaka school of thought and Buddhism and Jainism.

Fifthly, Hinduism doesn’t encourage fanaticism or zealotry. You are free to follow whichever and however you want to live your life. No one will force you into anything.


Therefore, these four landmark thinkers are both right and wrong. They are right when it comes to Christianity and Islam and wrong on Indic faiths.

Still the question looms- are the ‘Four Horsemen of New Atheism’ right about religion?


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